'In the last five years, two innovative revivals of Patrick White's early plays and at least three conferences in Australia and overseas have refocused critical interest on Australia's only Nobel Laureate in Literature. In 2012, the Adelaide Festival of Arts and the State Theatre Company of South Australia staged a contemporary gothic-punk-carnivalesque Inspired production of White's early expressionist play The Ham Funeral, first performed in 1961. Festival director, Paul Grabowski, noted that the inclusion of a new production of the play in the programme both celebrated the centenary of the writer's birth and redressed its infamous rejection by the 1960 Festival Board. The 2012 Ham Funeral follows the acclaimed Sydney Theatre Company (STC) 2007-08 revival of White's next play, Season at Sarsaparilla, first performed in 1962. STC associate director Benedict Andrews remediates the work, the first of White's plays to be set in suburban Australia, for the sensibilities of the twenty-first century in a stylish, well-funded production for contemporary audiences. These productions point to new interest in White's theatre that is also evident in recent conferences and scholarly publications.' (Author's introduction)
'On the 'calm moonlight night' of 17 March 1897, Italian-born 'barrowman' and diarist James Balzano joined some 300 fellow 'diggers' in a circle around a bonfire near Dick Egan's tent at Red Hill Camp, now Kambalda East, on Western Australia's Coolgardie Goldfield for a St Patrick's Day concert given by residents of the camp. Balzano records that he found the cobbled-together programme of songs, recitations, solo instrumentais, and a 'Step Dance on a meat box' to be 'very good indeed'.
'This scratch entertainment at Red Hill is of interest as an experience of collective remembering and cultural colonisation among a temporary grouping of people on the move, most of them men. Such events were part of the process of inhabiting remote new goldfields locations in Western Australia that offered little or no built environment, civic infrastructure or cultural heritage to support settler performance, let alone the more basic requirements of life. The privations and physicality of life at the Red Hill camp, the movement of its prospectors from one 'rush' to another, together with the experiences and memories of those who had migrated from other countries or Australian colonies, were integral to the spirit of this St Patrick's Day entertainment. The conditions in which the medley of items was performed emphasised the performers' bodily energy and dexterity, while their voluntarism fostered a sense of community with the audience. The programme's dozen or so popular songs and recitations in English, opening with a hymn to 'The Golden West' and closing with 'God Save the Queen', summoned a moment of imagined community in a colonial hinterland that was alien to European bodies and indifferent to imperial culture. To borrow from James V. Wertsch," the performance embodied the kind of distributed social remembering that 'extends beyond the skin' and (significantly) can result in 'homogenous, complementary, or contested collective memory'. But if the occasion was one of remembering and community, it also registered a degree of cultural displacement and loss. The Red Hill entertainment can be understood in these ways as a double act of collective remembering and forgetting by culturally uprooted people looking for reassurance to a past now absent from their present, while anticipating the possibilities that had lured them to Red Hill in the first place.' (Author's introduction)
'Amateur dramatic societies have existed in Australian country towns since the 1850s, making a valuable contribution to the social and cultural life of the communities they serve. Two of their most important functions are to provide live theatre where there would otherwise be none and to create opportunities for ordinary people to be involved in the many aspects of theatre. However, their collective significance has not been fully recognised, possibly because the difficulties of accessing primary sources scattered over vast distances are considerable. In this article, I show how it has been possible to create a framework for research into amateur dramatic societies in New South Wales regional communities between 1945 and 1970 by referring to the archive of the British Drama League, a semi-voluntary organisation established in Sydney in 1937 that acted as a coordinating body for amateur theatre until its demise in 1976. The League has faded into obscurity, but its remnants tell us a great deal about amateur theatre locally, nationally and internationally during the period of its existence.' (Author's introduction)
'For a few dazzling years in the early 1990s, many eyes in the Australian theatre world were turning to Canberra. The centre of attention was a brash young company called Splinters, recommended to those of us then working at The Performance Space by the late Bruce Keller, who had been working in Canberra with theatre-in-education company Jigsaw. Splinters was arguably the most remarkable and influential, truly home-grown artistic venture that Canberra has produced. It grew from the local (counter-)culture, and arose in and around the national government, the cultural institutions and the embassies of many nations that the city was designed to serve. The company's meteoric rise to national prominence in the early 1990s has not, to date, been documented and shared with the community that nurtured it, and its astonishing works and techniques deserve to be made available for overdue critical analysis.' (Author's introduction)
'In A Theory of Adaptation, Linda Hutcheon takes as a premise that adaptation is ubiquitous as a process, as a creative practice and as a product. Hutcheon's study investigates how adaptation works across all media and all genres including theatre, cover songs, video and computer games, and even theme parks. However, much of the theoretical discourse on adaptation is constrained still by narrow understandings of the transfer of a single source text from one medium to a text in a different medium, usually concentrating on novels adapted to film and television.' (Author's introduction)